Over the course of the pandemic, we've become more conscious about hygiene and sanitation than ever before, with wearing masks, using hand sanitizers, single-use disposables and receiving deliveries bundled in layers of wrapping. By increasing our use of plastic, we're keeping our hands clean but the opposite is true for the environment.
Our streets, beaches and oceans have been flooded with plastic waste during the COVID-19 pandemic.-, ,adding to the plastic pollution problem the world is already grappling with. Experts are warning fast action is needed and today we welcome two guests to discuss how to beat this pandemic plastic and move towards sustainable consumption.
Joining me is Dr. Rachel A. Meidl, Fellow in Energy and Environment at the Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University. Good to see you.
We also connect with Julie Andersen, CEO of Plastic Oceans International, joining us from Los Angeles. Thanks for joining us.
1. Rachel: In what ways has the COVID-19 pandemic been contributing to the global waste problem?
2. Julie: Disposable masks contain plastics which pollute water and can harm wildlife that eat or become tangled in them. Could you explain this process and how COVID-19 has impacted efforts to reduce disposable plastic?
3. Rachel: Five years ago, McKinsey predicted that on current trends, the global quantity of plastic in the ocean could nearly double to 250 million metric tons by 2025. That's one ton of plastic for every three tons of fish. Has the situation got any better? What's your projection?
4. Julie: As plastic waste goes in the sea, it feels like a problem that's literally oceans away for those of us who aren't conscious or well-informed of the problem. But how can plastic waste end up impacting human health?
5. Rachel: We tend to think that outright banning something will get rid of the problem.
You've argued this is not the case when it comes to plastics. What is the root cause of the problem and what fundamental changes are needed?
6. Julie: Now, your organization has become part of the Ocean Plastics Charter, which brings together six governments including the EU. Could you tell us more about this initiative?
7. Plastic is in almost all items we use in daily life in the modern world. How should we turn plastics into a valuable, marketable resource, instead of waste, and how important is global cooperation and political will in doing this?
8. Julie: How should we maximize plastic's potential as something of valuable, rather than just waste and what are the best ways we can limit the use of plastic during this pandemic?
Dr. Rachel A. Meidl, Fellow in Energy and Environment at the Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University and Julie Andersen, CEO of Plastic Oceans International, joining us from Los Angeles.
Thank you for your insights.